Yes, ducks will sit on unfertilized eggs, but this isn’t usually intentional. When a duck sits on her eggs, she believes that the eggs are fertile and will produce ducklings after some time. In most cases, ducks realize that their eggs will not hatch after sitting on them longer than the incubation days without getting results.
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Now, when a duck becomes convinced that the eggs won’t hatch, she will stop sitting on them and move on.
If your ducks are sitting on unfertilized eggs, continue reading to learn how to help them.
How Long Will a Duck Sit on Infertile Eggs?
A duck can sit on infertile eggs for longer than the average incubation days, hoping that they will eventually hatch.
The average hatching period usually ranges from 18 to 30 days. So, a duck can sit on infertile eggs for about 30 to 45 days without knowing that the eggs are not fertile.
Duck’s eggs need to be fertile for them to produce ducklings. If they are not fertile, the duck will sit on them for a long time, but they won’t hatch or turn dark.
Fertilization of duck eggs happens when the ovum moves down the oviduct and meets the drake’s sperm.
What’s interesting about ducks is that they can store sperm for up to 10 to 14 days in their sperm storage tubules. Some breeds can even keep the sperm for more than two weeks.
During this period, the duck will lay fertilized eggs that can hatch when incubated.
If the sperms die and the duck continues to lay eggs, such eggs are infertile, unlike the first ones. This explains why some eggs won’t hatch even if they were laid by the same duck.
However, this happens in rare cases, since most ducks will lay about 8 to 14 eggs, then begin sitting on them.
The best way to ensure that your ducks lay fertilized eggs is to provide a drake to them. Generally, one drake can fertilize up to five or six ducks and let them lay fertile eggs.
But if you have more drakes, you can reduce the ratio and have one drake for two or three ducks. This ratio is recommended, especially during the breeding season, to have more fertilized eggs.
Do Ducks Know If Their Eggs Are Fertile?
No, it’s not easy for ducks to know if their eggs are fertile or not. They cannot differentiate between fertile eggs from unfertilized or dead ones. However, a duck can realize that the eggs are not fertile after sitting on them for the normal incubation time, and they don’t hatch.
Like most birds, ducks can lay eggs without a drake. The eggs laid without a drake are usually infertile, and they will never hatch no matter how long the duck sits on them.
A duck will continue sitting on the eggs until she is convinced that ducklings will not come out. This can be disappointing to the duck, but she gets used after a while.
Once the broody duck gives up and moves on, she may start laying eggs again.
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If you are sure that your duck is sitting on unfertilized eggs, it’s crucial to remove her from the eggs or take the unfertilized eggs away.
This will ensure that your broody duck doesn’t get back to the eggs or keep waiting for ducklings that won’t come.
When your duck starts laying eggs again, you should collect them until she lays about 10 to 13 eggs. Otherwise, she might go broody again before the laying period is complete.
Moreover, ducks may eat their eggs or those of other ducks, especially if they become cracked. The best way to prevent this is by removing the eggs from the nest box.
What to Do When My Duck Goes Broody on Infertile Eggs
Whether your duck has fertilized or unfertilized eggs, she can go broody anytime when the laying period is over. This can be quite confusing as you don’t want your duck to incubate an unfertilized clutch of eggs that won’t hatch.
If you don’t have a drake or there isn’t one in your neighborhood to mate with your outdoor ducks, you can be sure that their eggs are infertile. So, there is no need to let them sit on such eggs.
Here is what to do when your duck goes broody on unfertilized eggs:
- Remove the Eggs: The best way to break your duck’s broodiness is by removing the eggs from the nest box. Emptying the nest will discourage the duck and get her life back to normal within a short time.
- Destroy the Nest Box: If you removed the eggs and your duck keeps sitting on the nest box, you should remove it or destroy it completely to block her access. She might decide to stop being broody when she can’t access the nest area. If you don’t want to destroy the nest box, you can cage the duck in solitary confinement for a few days.
- Give Her Some Treats: Breaking broodiness can be stressful for the duck, and she might end up being frustrated. You can give your ducks some yummy treats and worms to ease the stress and help them go through the hard time.
- Use Frozen Water Bottle and Cold Chips: Placing a frozen water bottle and cold chips under the duck while the duck sits on the eggs can break the broodiness. It will quickly switch off her desire to incubate the unfertilized eggs.
Breaking broodiness can be pretty hard for your duck, and you need to ensure that you do it right to avoid stressing her too much.
If you don’t want the process to be too tough on your duck, you can let her incubate the eggs for up to 28 days, then remove them and throw them away.
Summary – Will Ducks Sit on Unfertilized Eggs?
Ducks will gladly sit on their eggs when they go broody, hoping that they will soon have their beautiful ducklings. If the eggs are not fertile, they will not hatch even if the duck sits on them longer than the incubation period. So, it’s important to break the broodiness or simply buy fertile eggs and give her to sit on.
Featured Image credit: Image by Hussain Badshah from Pixabay